Overwatch: A Year in Review

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This past year has been a busy one for Blizzard. Not only has World of Warcraft seen a major rework and resurgence with the Legion expansion, but Blizzard has given their game repertoire an exciting addition. Overwatch, the first-person, online multiplayer shooter has garnered a huge following that rivals many comparable franchises from other companies from Battlefield to Call of Duty. It’s art style, amazing sense of balance, and range of characters was something we touched on earlier this year in our two-part review, but in this edition, we will detail the additions that have come to Overwatch, as well as the things to come as announced at Blizzcon and speculation for the next character addition.

Patches and Game Modes:

Since release, Overwatch has seen a few patches and game modes released to expand the content available to players. In the earliest patches, we saw a number of balancing changes to characters, including a buff to Dva, allowing her to survive her ult and giving her shield tankier qualities and debuffs to McCree and Widowmaker. Numerous other character balancing changes have been made, including increased flight duration for Pharah, Symmetra getting a new second ability and amazing damage dealing potential, and Zenyatta seeing a boost to his orbs and durability.

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In addition, we have seen several game modes and costume releases since launch. In August, Blizzard released their first content packed loot boxes, themed after the 2016 Summer Olympic Games which included new skins for some characters and new emotes and victory poses. In changes to game modes, Blizzard released 2 holiday events coinciding with Halloween and Christmas, Junkenstein’s Revenge and Winter Wonderland. Junkenstein’s Revenge offered numerous Halloween costumes, poses, emotes, and Overwatch’s first PVE game mode, where you took the role of one of 4 characters and defended your gate against an onslaught of zombie-like robots while fighting mini-bosses. Furthermore, Winter Wonderland, while not having a PVE mode, gave cosmetic updates to King’s Row and Hanamura, while offering new costumes and content revolving around the winter holidays.

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In addition to the holiday events, after announcing new maps at Blizzcon, Blizzard released Ecopoint Antarctica along with the Arcade which allows players to compete for loot boxes weekly in different game modes including 1v1 and 3v3 modes. Winter Wonderland also offered mystery matches on the winter themed maps, placing characters in a randomly chosen role while competing in traditional game play. All around some pretty exciting stuff!

Ana and Sombra

Overwatch released 2 new characters this year, each with different roles and very different play styles that shook up ranked and regular gameplay. Ana, added in July, is the estranged mother of Pharah and a sniper support/healer. She uses her sniper rifle to fire healing rounds at her allies while debuffing her enemies with poison, DoT shots. Ana’s abilities include a sleeping dart, a grenade that either heals her allies or poisons her enemies, and an ultimate that allows her ally to go berserk for short duration. Although Ana can be a difficult character to use, when played well she is a wonderful addition to any team and can change team fights with her sleeping dart (counting that she hits it and no one disturbs the sleeping target).

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Sombra, officially announced at Blizzcon and released in mid-November after months of hints and speculation, is a Brazilian hacker, aligned with Widowmaker and Reaper while keeping secret allegiances to herself. She is an offensive stealth character that combines stealth with an ability disrupting mechanic. Sombra can hack the enemy and after a short channel, disabling their extra abilities. More awesomely, she can also turn invisible and gain a notable speed boost while wielding a grenade that allows her to teleport to its location from anywhere on the map within a set time limit. Lastly, Sombra’s ultimate discharges an EMP, which allows her to disable opponents from using their own ultimate abilities. Sombra is another tricky character to use and doesn’t always pay off. Although a risky pick, she adds a different playstyle that may need a slight buff to become more viable.

What’s to Come:

Upon writing, a new map has been released for Overwatch in the form of Oasis. Oasis is a control point map set in a desert theme, with 3 control points and jump pads with environmental hazards. Although Blizzard has plans for new characters this year, no timeline has been set and only speculation has led players to believe that Doomfist, villain whose weapon featured in the teaser trailer for Overwatch, will be the next addition to the game. Only time will tell, however, so keep playing and climbing the ranks heroes! What would you like to see come to Overwatch in the next months? Let us know in the comments below!

**NOTE: In case you didn’t have a chance to see Sombra’s announcement, take a look at this footage from Blizzcon 2016! A few TGS representatives were lucky enough to attend and saw this first-hand.  Pretty cool, right?!

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